Two thirds of GP partners had been unable to recruit a locum at least once when they needed one over the past six months and half said it was difficult to recruit GP locums, a new poll by GP Online reveals.
A total of 44% of 319 GPs who responded said practices they worked at had increased their use of locums over the past six months.
NHS Digital data estimates that there are around 2,200 fewer FTE GPs today compared with 2015, so reliance on locums is likely to be higher now than at any time in the last eight years.
On NASGP’s platform, LocumDeck, although demand continues to outstrip supply, bookings have remained strong all year. Looking at data for larger ICB regions, GP locums are being booked for thousands of sessions a month after adding their availability.
Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chair, said: “This survey very much reflects our experience with LocumDeck, that GP locums are a precious resource, experiencing increasing demand.
“In an ideal world, every vacancy for a GP partner or salaried GP role would have a queue of applicants, but this is no longer the case. With the present state of affairs within the NHS, sadly the reality is that many of us now feel we’re able to do a better job as self-employed independent contractors.
“Our profession needs to embrace this new reality, and rather than continue to struggle against it, needs to do far more to support GP locums, to engage with this growing cohort of GPs, and adopt tried and trusted mechanisms like GP chambers to engage and motivate GP locums.”
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